Day 1 of the seventh Major Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament is over, and what a fascinating day it was! Eight matches, five of which on Cobblestone, a few surprises and some anticipated results, but just the combination for us to get excited for the next four days.
Fnatic v Vexed Gaming (Cobblestone, 16-10) got us started at this Cluj-Napoca Major. On paper, it was one of the most unbalanced matches of the day, maybe even the whole event, but sometimes things don't turn out as you would expect them to. The Polish team put up one heck of a fight on Cobblestone and after an inspired T half led one of the favourites to win the trophy, 10-5. However, fnatic is a truly world-class team, and a perfect second half secured them a pretty easy win in the end. It was scary, though.
Luminosity v Cloud9 (Dust 2, 16-11) was one of the highlights of the day. In a group in which fnatic are clear favourites to go through, second place is up for grabs, and it should all come down as a showdown between the South and North-American teams. Beginning strongly, Luminosity held the lead for most of the match, but Cloud9 came back at them, led themselves, and looked sure to win. However, the Brazilians had other plans.
To come: Tomorrow's losers match will be Vexed v Cloud9, and although C9 are clear favourites in that one, Vexed has shown some good CS against fnatic and shouldn't be taken lightly. Potential for a surprise? Yes, definitely. The winners match between fnatic and Luminosity should be pretty clear-cut. The Swedish team is a top 4 contender here and should have no problems qualifying after the second day. A repeat of a Luminosity v C9 match for second place in the group is on the cards for Friday. Predictions: Cloud9 and fnatic to win.
Team SoloMid v FlipSide3 Tactics (Cache, 16-6) was the first match of the second group. TSM, favourites to win the whole tournament in my view, had no trouble brushing aside the East-European team. The Danes started strongly and never looked back, although they lost a few rounds towards the end of the match.
G2 v mousesports (Inferno, 16-8) represented another hot match of the day. As with Group A, top spot will most likely go to the clear favourites, in this case TSM, but the second spot is pretty much up for grabs. G2 and mousesports are the main contenders, and their match was promising on paper. However, G2 simply proved too strong for their opponents and gathered a much easier win than most would have expected. Promising stuff from the all-European line-up.
To come: Tomorrow's losers match will match FlipSid3 with mousesports, with the latter clearly starting out as favourite. They should have the power to gather themselves and record a good win. In the winners match, TSM will face G2, and although TSM should have this one in the bag, G2 can at least push for a surprise result. If the expected outcomes do go through, a repeat of G2 v mousesports is on the cards for deciding the second spot in the group. Predictions: mousesports and TSM to win.
Virtus.pro v Team Liquid (Cobblestone, 19-15) has to have been the match of the day. The Polish team started out as favourite in this encounter of the tournament's most exciting group, but Liquid had a very strong point to prove. Their slow climb up towards top spot in North America has been interesting, and judging by what they showed against Vp, they should secure that place pretty soon. Vp had the early advantage, but Liquid managed to win quite a few rounds either side of half-time to make the game extremely interesting. Vp clawed their way back and the game entered over-time after some nail-biting last rounds. The Pole's experience was key, as 'Snax' led the way to an exciting but scary win for them.
Titan v Ninjas in Pijamas (Cobblestone, 16-13) provided the other very interesting encounter in Group C. It was a match up that paired two in-form teams, but in the end it was the French team that came out on top. NiP started very poorly, and Titan seized every opportunity it had. Leading by an astonishing 13-2 at half-time, most people would have been excused for thinking the match was over, but an inspired NiP team charged back into the match. It fell just short of a fabulous recovery, with Titan winning and opening up the group.
To come: Tomorrow's losers match between Liquid and NiP should be very interesting. One wouldn't have thought NiP would have problems going into this kind of a match-up, but if the first day's games had anything to show, it was that Liquid is a serious team capable of serious results. Swedes, beware! The winners match between Titan and Virtus.pro should also be a cracker, with Vp not looking exactly on point during the first day. Titan, however, played extremely well and might know that they have a brilliant chance to go through from the "Death Group". Fall tomorrow and a re-match against NiP could await them. Even Liquid are scary. Predictions: NiP and Titan to win.
EnVyUs v Team Dignitas (Cobblestone, 16-6) had the French team totally dominating despite falling to a 0-3 scoreline after losing the opening pistol round. 'Happy' & co. didn't look back. Instead, they looked as strong as ever, definitely a team that has the potential to add to their Major tally.
Natus Vincere v Counter Logic Gaming (Cobblestone, 16-12) was the final match of the day, and sure enough, Na'Vi respected their status as strong favourites. The Ukrainian side led from the off, and kept a solid advantage throughout the game despite not running away with the win. The American team was not really far away to stage a comeback, but ended up a sure loser.
To come: Tomorrow's losers match will be a face-off between Dignitas and CLG which is really hard to judge. By having a very strong opponent in EnVy, Dignitas' form can be easily misjudged, and CLG is a team that can match them on a good day. The winners match between EnVyUs and Na'Vi has the potential to be an exciting one. Although Na'Vi is knocking on the door op the top 4 for some time now, one gets the feeling it is not quite there yet, whereas EnVy looks to be on fire. Predictions: CLG and EnVyUs to win.
1. EnVyUs (+1) - The French team looked the best in Cluj during the first round of matches and maybe edge TSM in my view as the best team right now.
2. TSM (-1) - Favourites before the tournament, a bit behind EnVyUs right now. Both these teams had fairly easy matches today, so one couldn't really assess with too much precision where they stand right now.
3. fnatic (-) - Almost caused a huge negative upset after being put to respect by Vexed during the first day, but fnatic showed its flair quite clearly during the second half of the game. Class doesn't simply vanish like that and the Swedes will look to make it three Majors in a row this week.
4. Titan (new) - France is on top of the CS world right now. Titan showed us they are ready to come back as a top tier team by beating NiP on the first day at DreamHack Cluj. They still face a huge challenge in their group, but judging by what they showed on Thursday, watch out!
5. Virtus.pro (-1) - The top 5 is at the moment filled by the Polish team. Defeating Liquid proved to be a huge task for them, but sure enough, they came through in what was a nail-biting finale. The tough win may boost the team to perform better.
The first day at DreamHack was a thoroughly exciting one. We witnessed some very good matches and we definitely saw a few surprises, with Vexed challenging fnatic, Titan swiping away NiP and Luminosity still proving a match for the struggling Cloud9.
A very interesting aspect was Cobblestone being played five times during the opening eight matches of the tournament. TSM and G2 were the only two teams on the day to veto the map, and it will really be interesting to see if the trend continues during the second day. One would expect the teams that lost on the map today to guide themselves toward other surroundings.
The Twitch production value of the tournament so far was really exciting. It's nice to see producers trying to offer new things such as Twitter feeds, new window-in window viewing and so on. People turned up in big numbers both on Twitch and in-game to see the action, which is always good. Sure, there was a delay at the beginning of the day, but the eight matches finished about on schedule. The casters, interviewers and analysis desk was excellent throughout, but we are already used to that, right?
Lots of positives that will make us look forward happily to the next days of the competition. From Thursday on, everything will be out in the open, on the main stage of the Polyvalent Hall in Cluj-Napoca.